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First In NASCAR: 1954 Hudson Hornet Garage Find

Hudson Motor Car Co. was the first automobile manufacturer to get involved in stock car racing when NASCAR was formed. The Hornet model dominated the sport in the early-1950s when drivers actually raced stock cars and won a bunch of races. 1954 was the last model year before Hudson and Nash merged to form American Motors and this 4-door sedan is one of those cars. Offered by a dealer in Los Angeles, California, this ’54 Hornet looks to have been in storage for years and is available here on Facebook Marketplace for $7,000.

The Hudson Hornet debuted in 1951 and the first generation would run through the year of the merger. They featured a functional “step-down” design with a dropped floor pan and a chassis with a lower center of gravity that provided for more passenger room and better handling. The cars employed a large, 308 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine that produced 160 hp to stock form. That output could be upgraded for racing purposes. The seller’s Hornet is one of 24,833 built in 1954 in all body styles. We don’t know much about this car other than it has had just two owners, it ran when it was parked, the engine turns over, and the seller may work on it to get it running. If he does, the price will go up. He only provides one photo; the second is of a similar Hornet in running condition.


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Probably brought to you by the frog selling the blue Charger. At least we know that all the parts are there on the right side of the car.

    Like 6
  2. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Nice canoe.

    Like 7
  3. Steve Clinton

    I remember as a boy thinking these Hudsons were SO cool. They were low to the ground and aerodynamic for their time. Compare a 1948 Hudson to late 40’s GM or Chrysler cars.

    Like 13
    • FrankD

      Steve, they still are cool!

      Like 6
    • David Taylor

      Remember the 1950’s Hudson motto song?
      “Rocking and rolling in a Hudson,
      Singing this song all day
      rocking and rolling in a Hudson
      guess I was born that way”

      Like 2
  4. Wayne

    Seemed like I lived half of my early years in one of these. Uncle Smitty always had several. Smooth riding, quiet and reliable. I miss driving these as they are a unique experience. (As are many great driving cars.) I keep watching for one that will meet my criteria, wallet and time.

    Like 8
  5. BlondeUXB Member

    “Twin H” ?

    Like 3
  6. Rodney - GSM

    One year only canoe option. Super rare.
    Something about the Hudson Motor Car Company being up some creek.

    Like 12
  7. Howard A Member

    The authors story is a bit misleading. Yes, Hudson did have a fling with NASCAR, but it was brief. Since horsepower was about the same for most makes then, it was their low slung body that helped it out corner the others and therefore win,,until the Olds Rocket 88, with it’s sheer V8 horsepower came around, that is, and blew the old Hudson, and most others, out of the water. Hudson also had some of the best drivers of the time, Marshall Teague, Herb Thomas, Tim Flock,,and while Hudson did win the 1st race in 1954, Ford, GM and Chrysler quickly took out Hudson, and that was it.
    All these 50’s cars had “battleship technology”, meaning, stronger( and heavier) was safer, and to a point, that was true, until 2 of these cars hit each other. It was determined some 20 years later, it was better to have them give a little. Cars sitting like this needs a lot, but in the end, you have probably one of the best built cars of the early 50’s.

    Like 12
    • Lance

      Howard, Well you almost got it right. LOL. Olds didn’t stand a chance against the stepdowns. The number of NASCAR races won was incredible. NO ONE even came close.from 1951-53 In 1954 their winnings dropped off thanks to the V8 entries of Mopar in the NASCAR circuits. Chrysler crowed that they had beaten Hudson but the real story was that they added two ,more cylinders and a lot more horsepower to beat an inline 6. I can tell you personally that these cars handle very well and take corners without wallowing. Surprisingly the weight of these cars was not to bad considering they were unibody or ‘monobuilt’ as Hudson called them. This particular specimen for sale dosen’t look like it requires much . I have rebuilt much worse than this. I hope someone gets this car appreciates it. A few more photos would have been helpful.

      Like 15
    • Terrry

      Actually, there’s replacement for displacement, and the Hornet had the largest engine and the most aerodynamic body. That’s why it won.

      Like 2
  8. timothy r herrod

    I remember reading something many years ago about the early cars in nascar, somehow they ran the engines backwards and flipped the rearends over. The engine running backwards would help plant the left front to steer better in corners under acceleration. Anyone else ever hear of such a thing or am i confused in my older age?

    Like 4
    • Howard A Member

      No, but you got me intrigued. So, once again, the big blue “G” comes to the rescue. Research shows, it was Smokey Yunick ( “Say Smokey”) that proposed and built a “Reverse Torque” setup on an Offy powered Indy car. There were reports of Hudsons running backwards too, but not much info on that. Thanks, man! And yes, at our age we are allowed to be confused, :)

      Like 12
      • timothy r herrod

        Thanks Howard, good to know I haven’t lost it all yet. Maybe all that reading I did will be of use someday

        Like 4
      • CarBuzzard Member

        Back in the olden days of prop fighter aircraft, the gyroscopic effect of moving a rotating object would create a change in direction–cause a torque effect–that would allow, actually prompt a change in rotation of the aircraft. If a pilot knew the effect on an enemy aircraft and his own, he could anticipate how fast each aircraft could turn in any direction.

        Of course, that mattered more with a plane with a proportionately heavier propeller and a radial engine, a Hellcat vs an inline RR engine in a Spitfire, such as the hotrod prop aircraft would have.

        I doubt an automotive engine, with its comparatively less rotational mass, would have much gyroscopic effect. Of course, I really have no idea what I’m talking about, so there’s that to take into consideration as well.

        Like 7
    • Christopher

      Back in my early days as a mechanic, an older mechanic told me of American racing cars that ran their engines backwards, for that reason. He also said that they removed the starter ring gear and drill holes into the flywheel then refit the ring gear.

      Like 0
  9. Paul Brown

    Very high quality cars, beautifully engineered and built like tanks. I hope this one finds a good home where it will be refurbished and driven.

    Like 7
  10. Kenn

    Addressing those who may have doubts about “running an engine backwards”, many twin engine boats – and some single screw boats as well – have counter-rotating engines. ie: running “backwards”.

    Like 1
    • Steve

      Most of those dual engine boats have the engines rotating the same direction, the counter rotation or reverse is in the out drive unit. The purpose is to help the boats operate in a straight line under heavy throttle and to improve stability.

      Like 0
  11. jwaltb

    Don’t think NASCAR ran four-doors, but nice try.

    Like 1
    • Lance

      Actually there was one guy who did. His name was Obie Chupp (no lie) Didn’t race very long but he used Hudson sedans.

      Like 1
  12. Kenn

    Steve, I don’t know if “most” is correct, but the big cruisers running straight inboards had engines running in reverse – ie: the props turning in opposite directions was NOT due to either out drives or transmissions. My son has a Century speedboat, single engine, with the engine turning in the opposite direction. When the engine was rebuilt I had to locate the cam for it.

    Like 1
    • Steve

      I should have prefaced my comment with “modern”. 😊

      Like 0
  13. Tom ayers

    Nice 17ft. Kevlar canoe. Just 47lbs.

    Like 1

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